Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part III: Presentation Of The Messenger Of Salvation
C. Christ's Credentials Revealed In Confrontations With Men
1. Christ's Saving Supremacy Over Man's Bondages To Superstitions
(John 5:1-9)
  1. Introduction
    1. We Americans are becoming increasingly subject to superstitions. Horoscopes and divinations of all sorts fill our newspapers, radio announcements and talk shows with increasing regularity.
    2. Jesus revealed His great supremacy over man's bondage to supersitions, and He did so by confronting the superstition and healing a man bound by superstition in contradiction to the false beliefs involved:
  2. Christ's Saving Supremacy Over Man's Bondages To Superstitions, John 5:1-9:
    1. Jesus' miracles were intended not as an end in themselves, but to be a vehicle for people to identify Him as the promised Messiah so that they might believe in Him to have eternal life.
      1. Jesus noted that His miracles were intended to identify Him as the miracle-working Messiah predicted in Isaiah 35:5 and 61:1, cf. Mtt. 11:2-6.
      2. By their faith in Him because of their having seen His miracles, people would be saved, John 20:30-31.
    2. Well, Christ confronted a man whose faith in God's miracles was bound by a false superstition, and Jesus circumvented the superstition to make the man see His miracle and believe to be saved, John 5:1-9:
      1. Christ once visited the pool of Bethesda just northeast of the temple, Jn. 5:1-2, B.K.C., N. T., p. 289.
      2. In this location of five cloisters of colonnades were sheltered a number of handicapped, ill people, 5:3b.
      3. Beginning in verse 3c with the phrase, "waiting for the moving of the water" and continuing with verse 4, there is a textual problem that exposes a false superstition about the pool:
        1. Though some manuscripts include this section of 3c-4, the best and earliest ones omit it, cf. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 209.
        2. Besides, asterisks and or obeli mark the words as spurious in more than 20 Greek manuscripts, Ibid.
        3. There are a number of non-Johannine words and expressions in this section, Ibid.
        4. The many varied forms in which v. 4 was transmitted in the readings shows the text is suspect, Ibid.
        5. The fact that self-help forms the basis of healing in the account in verse 4 with the fastest to the pool after the angel's stirring the water indicates the account counters God's grace as a false belief, v. 4 !
      4. Edersheim reports that there was a sad superstition built up around the pool as follows:
        1. Typical of the Ancient Near East, a story was begun that an angel would stir the pool, and the first one in after the stirring would be healed, Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, i, p. 463.
        2. This stirring of water was an occasional gurgling of bubbles caused by underground currents. It still occurs in the "Fountain of the Virgin" in Jerusalem to this day, Ibid.
      5. When Jesus saw a man there with an infirmity of 38 years, He asked if he would want to be healed, 5-6.
      6. The man thought Jesus talked about the superstitious stirring of the water, and thought Jesus was going to help him get down into the water and so voiced his indirect request for that help, John 5:7.
      7. Without hesitating, Jesus commanded the man to take up his bed and walk to get healed, John 5:8.
      8. When the man obeyed, he was immediately made not only whole, but with the capacity to use his limbs, bypassing even the need for physical therapy, John 5:9b.
    3. Of special note was Jesus' healing this man on the sabbath in direct contrast to the "superstitious" legality of the Pharisees who would have forbade such a healing legalistically, John 5:9c!
Lesson: Jesus Christ's salvation and help was NOT in accord with or subject to man's superstitions, whether they arose from religious folk lore about a pool or from the Pharisees on the Sabbath. He came to give man eternal life by GRACE apart from such false religious ideas or rituals from man.

Application: We must not allow ourselves to fall bondage to what "somebody" thinks or says we must be or do to please God and be helped by Him. Scripture ALONE under CHRIST ALONE is all we need for complete direction, salvation, help and empowerm ent from God. All other sources for ideas and direction are to be rejected as false sources of direction and ways of gaining God's help!